5/25/2009 11:05 PM
There are many, many times I miss the places I have called home: South Buffalo, New York City, Jersey City, Boston, Washington D.C., Dublin, and my parents' hometown of Derry in Northern Ireland.
Here in the missions, it is easy to imagine myself as a small dot on a very big globe -- far away from many friends, family, teachers, patients, classmates and students who make up the "scrapbook" of my life, so far, on Earth. But My Father has sent me here to do His Work, and I feel His Love with every breath. I would love to be so ironclad and perfect in my faith that I could say I had no regrets -- but I am only human. Sometimes, there is a small "sigh" after those breaths of gratitude to Him! But only small ones. I have freely and gladly given my life to Him.
His Will be done.
But because of what has happened this past week, I am tempted to say I am grateful to be this faraway little dot.
Here, we live in the shadow of a smoldering volcano that (hopefully) God will restrain from any rigorous exercise, but the volcano that was and is the Catholic Church's child-abuse scandal erupted with full force last week. I wondered what I would have said had I faced a congregation in Ireland, and confess I felt relieved that my Masses here had their usual friendly audience, most quite unaware of what was unfolding in the rectories and offices of the Church in Europe and North America. Dressed in their "Sunday best," which is sometimes very emotional to witness, they listened attentively to the Holy Gospel and sang many hymns beautifully. They left church with smiles, returning to a world where hunger, dengue fever and other illnesses long-cured in the Western world, and exterme poverty are a way of life.
Ignorance, it seems, was bliss for them -- though the hearts and minds of the religious who staff the mission were heavy with worry, sadness and anger.
The Catholic Church is one, and therefore, we all share in this terrible meltdown of values, this unholy, un-Christian and almost unbelievable episode. We do not have to be a deviant and sick priest who abused children in our care, nor one of the conspiratorial Pastors, Monsignors, Bishops and Cardinals who covered up these repugnant acts and even let them continue, to feel the shame and responsibility that is ours to bear.
"How could they even look at us?" wondered a fellow missionary of a "regular" congregation. "How could we look at them?"
Well, we must look at one another.
For those of us -- and please believe me when I say it is the great, vast majority -- who have been called by God to both follow His Path and guide His Church, we can only stop long enough to immerse ourselves in supplication and prayer that the Mind that knows all and the Heart that loves all will continue to be with us as we continue in His service. We must make a rigorous moral examination of our own consciences, and, where we find we have been less than Our Loving Father would have us be, make every amend that is possible on this Earth to atone for what we have done in word, thought and deed. And -- for what we have not done.
Judgment is not mine to make, but I believe the refusal of many in the Irish Church to repudiate the dark moment when they conspired with Dublin politicians to insulate themselves from monetary damages must be reversed. That the suffering people of Ireland would have to shoulder one penny of the burden for the demented acts of the Church and the terrible harm it caused is morally indefensible -- and utterly reprehensible. As Jesus once shouted in righteous anger, "You hypocrites!"
No, the Church cannot truly make amends via checkbook for what it has done. In misguided error and deaf to the Loving Teaching of God and His Holy Spirit, Man can do many things for which no earthly amends exist. Little slips of paper currency, already bloodied enough by others' greed and hatred in the world, cannot make up for any abuse of God's Own Children. But if it is the very best, the most-sincere and most-giving thing we can do -- no matter what it may mean for the fiscal future of the Church, then it is God's Will that it be done.
His Will be done.
The Church must also realize that is is a part of society -- not apart from society. If the Church itself, or its religious, have broken the laws of Man, then they must face the punishment demanded of all citizens of that society. We can only pray that the Judge of All -- the only One Who can judge truly -- will let His Holy Spirit guide the courts and judges in this sad but necessary atonement.
And what about you? Should you walk away from the Church in disgust, or worse, stop believing in a God "who could let this happen?" I pray that you do neither, yet understand that some of you will. No matter, you are all and always in my prayers.
I too have been angry at the Church, and yes, I have been angry at God. There is no person, no matter the strength of his belief, who could say otherwise. On the Cross, even Our Lord cried out to His Father, "Why have You forsaken Me?"
But Our Risen Lord has shown that God does not ever forsake His Children, who He loves with a changeless and unchangeable love. Nor can they ever really forsake Him -- for His Holy Name is written in every mind, and His Loving Memory lives in every heart. Sooner or later, the unceasing Call that all His Own cannot but hear, will be heard and answered.
Volcanoes can erupt and seemingly cause great suffering and pain, but like the deeds or misdeeds of Man, they are stilled by the Love and Will of the Great Creator of the Universe.
His Will be done.
God bless you all!
-- Father Tim
Little known tale of generous Turkish aid to the Irish during the Great Hunger